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The Last Patriarchby Najat El Hachmi
Synopses & Reviews
An explosive novel which pits fathers against daughters and duty against desire.
Straight talking and fiery, Mimoun's daughter is everything he wishes she weren't. When he leaves Morocco for Catalonia, he wants to improve his own life without allowing Western culture to affect his wife or children at all. He expects them to stay in Morocco, while he enjoys the sophistication and freedom of Barcelona.
His plans are thrown into disarray when his family insists on joining him in Catalonia. Things get much worse when his daughter starts reading the dictionary, and taking on the Catalonians at their own language...
The Last Patriarch, a bestseller when published in 2008, was awarded the most prestigious Catalan literary prize, the Ramon Llull. It has been translated into all the major European languages and also won the Prix Ulysse, France.
"El Hachmi's debut novel follows a forward-thinking man from the countryside of Morocco to Catalonia, Spain, where his uncle meets him and promises: 'You'll miss a lot of things, Mimoun, but you'll soon find others to make up for them.' On this first trip abroad Mimoun Driouch leaves behind the girl whose family has accepted his marriage proposal. He returns to marry her, but becomes violent and obsessed with the need to control his young wife while he indulges in women, drink, and hashish. He comes and goes, having children and expecting his family to stay in Morocco while he enjoys the pleasures of Spain, until his daughter, the child he yearned for, unlike other families who hope for sons, makes him change his ways. This girl narrates — 'I was born on cue, although some say I came too early, timing that destroyed the family and provoked one of those upsets that pursues you throughout life' — and Mimoun mistakenly believes she will be obedient and easier to handle than his sons. Instead, she's the one who shames her father into sending for his wife and children to join him in Spain where he has been living with his mistress. Mimoun begins to realize his daughter is more than an extension of himself as she pores over the Catalan dictionary, arming herself with words which become her salvation. El Hachmi depicts the paternalistic society in myriad ways, from the women who lack names and are referred to only by their relationships to Mimoun's attempts to dictate the life of his daughter; ultimately, Mimoun as 'the patriarch' is irrelevant for the next generation (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A riveting debut novel of fathers and daughters and the conflict between duty and desire, set in Morocco and Barcelona.
"An exciting fictional take on politics and the family."—Telegraph
When Mimoun leaves Morocco he wants to improve his own life without allowing Western culture to corrupt his wife or children. He expects them to stay in Morocco, while he enjoys the free and easy ways of Barcelona.
Najat El Hachmi explores the role of women within a patriarchal culture while tackling issues such as immigration and integration. The book is both a powerful family saga and a story of a girl's struggle to find her own identity and break free from a tyrannical father.
Najat El Hachmi lives in Barcelona, Spain.
About the Author
Najat El Hachmi : Najat El Hachmi was born in Morocco in 1979. At the age of eight, she emigrated to Catalonia, Spain with her family. Her novel The Last Patriarch won the prestigious Ramon Llull Prize in 2008. She has published one other book, an autobiographical work called I Too Am Catalan.
Peter Bush: Peter Bush is an award-winning literary translator who lives in Barcelona. He studied French and Spanish at Cambridge and researched Spanish fiction and history at Oxford. After teaching in London schools he became Professor of Literary Translation at Middlesex University and then at the University of East Anglia, where he also directed the British Centre for Literary Translation. His recent translations from Spanish include Juan the Landless by Juan Goytisolo, Havana Fever by Leonardo Padura and Celestina by Fernando de Rojas and from Catalan, A Not So Perfect Crime by Teresa Solana and The Last Patriarch by Najat El Hachmi.
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